The value of great customer service in generating additional sales cannot be overstated.
62% of B2B and 42% of B2C customers buy more from a business after a positive customer service experience.
Directly and indirectly, your customer service team has a major impact on your sales.
Every business can reap the rewards of integrating customer service into their sales strategy. Here are 10 ways to build a customer service team that is also a sales team.
1. Problem-solvers, not product-sellers
Customers keep their guard up when talking to salespeople – they know you are trying to make a sale.
Conversely, they will usually see your customer service agents as problem-solvers.
Brian Tracy describes the most effective sales method is to “approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.”
This puts your customer service team in a uniquely strong position to make a sale, as they are already there primarily to solve your customer’s problems.
When your sales team recommend a product, the customer assumes they are trying to get a sale. When your customer service team recommends a product, the customer assumes they are trying to solve the problem.
Make sure your customer service training included understanding who your customers are and the problems your products solve for them.
This will enable your customer service teams to recommend products to solve a customer’s problem.
2. Upselling as problem-solving
Train your customer service team to problem-solve by upselling.
A strong understanding of which products and services complement each other is an integral part of this.
Customers may trust a customer service agent’s recommendation more than a salesperson’s.
Customers expect the sales team to sell, and the customer service team to solve their problem. You know it’s more complicated than that, but this is how many customers look at it.
These expectations allows your customer service team to make recommendations that a customer may dismiss from a sales agent.
Your customer service team can support your sales team by taking transfers during a sales call.
Some customers want reassurance about the product by speaking to a ‘non-salesperson’.
3. Customer and product knowledge
It can frustrate to contact businesses for information only to discover that the agent knows less than you do.
Your teams need as much training on service and policy changes as they do on the products themselves.
Make sure your customer service teams understand changes and the reasoning behind them.
Customers can lose faith in your organization from a single agent who wasn’t up to speed.
4. Personalized Service
Knowledge about your customers is just as important as knowing about your products.
Keep detailed notes in your CRM about every interaction any department has with a customer.
The more your customer service team knows about a customer, the better they can tailor their approach for that customer. Even simple info like how a customer wants you to address them can make a big difference.
Enabling your customer support agents to provide a personalized service in this way makes customers feel you care about them.
Keeping an existing customer can be 5 times cheaper than attracting a new customer.
“It never ceases to amaze me that companies spend millions to attract new customers (people they don’t know) and spend next to nothing to keep the ones they’ve got! Seems to me the budgets should be reversed!” –Tom Peters
Spending some extra time to showing your customers matter is a smart investment.
As much as we like to think we do business for logical reasons, often it comes down to how we feel about a business.
When a business remembers us and treats us as individuals, we view that business in a positive light.
In the words of Ben & Jerry’s Co-Founder Ben Cohen:
“There is a spiritual aspect to our lives — when we give, we receive — when a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about them!”
Keeping detailed notes in your CRM is a simple and powerful method of achieving this.
5. Issue and Query Tracking
67% of customers attribute a negative customer service experience to having to repeat their problem multiple times.
This sends a clear message that your business is not treating their situation as a high priority.
Discourage the use of canned responses to a customer or potential customer inquiry.
Personalising message templates for each customer is a small job that can make a big difference to how a customer feels.
6. Customer service promotes your business
The quality of your customer service is a selling point.
Poor quality customer service is a major concern for many customers and more than half of consumers will pay more just for a better customer service experience.
“Always keep in mind the old retail adage: Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price.” –Lauren Freedman
If you can prove how great your customer service is, do so loudly and proudly!
Just look at how much Plusnet emphasize customer service over their other awards on their homepage:
7. Word-of-mouth marketing
“Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.”–Ken Blanchard
When customers discuss the products and services they use, they will usually bring up the quality of customer service.
A good reputation has a big impact on whether a customer will recommend your business.
Customer service ranks as one of the most important factors impacting customers’ trust in your business.
Similarly, have a system in place for customer service agents to request referrals and reviews from customers after a great interaction.
When you help a customer, they will be happy to help you.
8. Customer Convenience
You should also advertise the customer service features that make you more convenient than your competitors, such as automated call-backs during long queues, or alternative contact methods not offered by all businesses, such as the ability to contact customer service via SMS.
Handling customer service contacts via SMS is great for customers as they need not dedicate time for a phone call and can continue the conversation from anywhere.
This is especially useful for simple contacts such as appointment reminders.
“Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Customers are transforming faster than we are, and if we don’t catch up, we’re in trouble.”–Ian Schafer
Always be on the lookout for new ways to make interacting with your customer service team easier for your customers.
9. Social Media
Potential customers use your social media as an indicator of your customer care.
Ensure your team handles queries and complaints posted to social media promptly. Even if it is just to say you will be in contact privately about the matter.
These interactions are public and potential customers are watching.
According to Renegades Write The Rules author Amy Jo Martin, “It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and some people don’t understand that. Social media is more like a telephone than a television.”
In other words, you may want to use social media solely for pushing out your marketing messages, but that’s just not how it works. Customers want to interact with you on social media and don’t see any reason they should not be able to discuss their issues with your business or products here.
A visitor to your social media seeing even a tiny minority of unanswered queries and complaints will not think you take good care of your customers.
A final technique you can use to build a great reputation through customer service is down-selling.
It sounds counter-intuitive to recommend a cheaper product, but encourage honesty when a customer doesn’t need your top-tier package or most expensive product.
This can earn you a lot of loyalty with that customer, and a reputation for caring most about what your customers need.
Your customer service team can do a lot more than just answer queries and handle complaints. They are the component of your business customers interact with most, and will always have a major impact on the customers you can attract and keep.
Good customer service can generate sales through quality alone, but you can always boost these results by empowering your customer service team with the training to make sales as part of their service.